‘It is by far the greatest honour’

 

‘It is by far the greatest honour’ – Ushba Tesoro wins in Dubai World Cup for Japan.

Ushba Tesoro defeated Algiers for jockey Yuga Kawada and trainer Noboru Takagi in the £10 million Dubai World Cup. This was a huge victory for Japan.

Ed and Simon Crisford were denied a fairytale victory as Ushba Tesoro, a towering six-year-old, maintained a relentless run from the back of the pack to claim a sensational victory by two and three-quarter lengths, but attention was drawn to the gold silks of James Doyle as Algiers rapidly closed on the pacesetter Bendoog.

Following the commanding victories of Derma Sotogake in the UAE Derby and Equinox in the Sheema Classic, this victory provided additional evidence of Japan’s global dominance. After Victoire Pisa’s breakthrough in 2011, it was the nation’s second World Cup victory.

Ushba Tesoro was barely able to gallop in turf races in Japan, but since switching to dirt, he has won local Group 1 races in the Tokyo Daishoten and Kawasaki Kinen. Under the desert sky, the relatively unknown contender added one of the sport’s highest prizes to his collection.

Japan’s champion jockey Kawada said: “It was his first time running overseas and there were queries with the travel and the different surface, but he was training quite well here and we knew the horse was in very good condition. It was just a matter of how he could keep his head in the race and he did that very well today.

“There were eight Japanese horses in the field and aside from myself there was only one other Japanese jockey in the race, Yutaka Yoshida on Panthalassa. My horse jumped quite well, but the majority of the other Japanese runners were running mid-to-back of the pack. I just tried to focus on maintaining his rhythm.

“I was riding the horse for the first time but it was a tremendous honour and at the same time there was a lot of pressure leading into this race, but the horse fought on very well.”

Takagi has enjoyed local Group 1 success in his native country with the likes of White Fugue and Sound True, but this success eclipsed any of his previous achievements. “It is by far the greatest honour,” said the trainer.

After the race, the dirt-splattered Ushba Tesoro was full of energy and bucked and shied in the winner’s enclosure. Takagi assured the winning connections that such behavior was normal for the son of Orfevre.

That stallion was cruelly disqualified from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2012, and his connections are considering competing in the same race with the winner, who is a 20-1 bet with bookmakers. One of the few significant prizes Japan has not yet won is this one.

“He’s a bit bothered by the heat so we’ll see how he progresses over the summer and come up with a plan,” said Takagi. “When he first got here he was quite nervous, but it was expected. As the days went by he gradually got into the environment and today he ran his heart out.”

The Crisfords suffered a heartbreaking defeat as the highly anticipated Algiers began to falter in the final moments, but the Al Maktoum Challenge champion bravely held off the fast-finishing Emblem Road.

“He travelled into it good, didn’t he?” Ed Crisford said. “Turning for home I thought we had it in the bag, but he was treading water for the last half-furlong. He’s never run this distance on dirt before so perhaps he was just outstayed on the day.

“Huge credit to the horse and James, who rode a great race. He’s going to go back to Newmarket and have a little break and then we’ll see.”

Frankie Dettori could oversee seventh on board last year’s victor Country Grammer on his last ride in the Emirates, having scooped a record-breaking third Dubai Turf on board Master North a little more than an hour sooner.

“At least I got one,” he said. “I’m going to have a nice cold beer now.”

He and Ushba Tesoro’s connections deserve it.

 

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